Wari culture

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The empire of the Wari (or: Huari ) ['wari] was one of the pre- Inca regional cultures of South America and existed from around AD 600 to 1100 along the coastal region of what is now Peru .


During the time of the Middle Horizon , around 600 AD, two cultures emerged in the Andean highlands and the Pacific coastal region, which subjugated the existing empires: the Wari and Tiahuanaco cultures . The militaristically oriented Wari culture emerged from the Recuay culture and subjugated the Nazca , Mochica , Huarpa and other smaller cultural centers. The name of the culture is derived from the place Huari (Wari), the political and urban center of the empire, about 25 km northeast of today's city of Ayacucho in southern Peru.


At its heyday in the 9th and 10th centuries, the area of ​​influence of the Wari culture extended over 1,500 kilometers from Sihuas ( Arequipa ) and Sicuani ( Cuzco ) in the south of the empire to Piura and the Marañón Valley in the north and covered an area of ​​around 300,000 Square kilometers. At that time, up to 100,000 people lived in the capital on an area of ​​20 km². Evidence of the impressive urban architecture can also be found in cities such as Otuzco ( Cajamarca ), Tomeval , Pikillaqta and Viracochapampa , which were built on the model of the capital. The administrative infrastructure of the Wari can be seen as a model for the later Inca culture.


Wari stone figure with inlays of shells and colored stones; Ebnöther collection in the Museum zu Allerheiligen , Schaffhausen

The spread of the Wari culture was associated with profound changes for the political, social and religious life of the Andean people. These changes were reflected in new architecture , urban settlement structures, an expanded infrastructure and a militarily organized culture. The religious cult around the new creator god Viracocha soon superimposed all cults of the previous centuries, the cause of its resemblance to the scepter god of Tiahuanaco could not yet be clearly clarified. Characteristic peculiarities that can be found on textiles , in handicrafts and on ceramics in these two cultures are polychrome elements with complex ornaments , including above all the strikingly frequent use of mythical animal motifs with condors and jaguars .

Architecture and infrastructure

In the Wari culture, cities were first laid out in South America, which were surrounded by defensive walls and laid out in a chessboard-like manner and which went far beyond religious centers. The capital Wari (Huari) was fully equipped with temples, palaces and districts, and the city had a complicated system of canals and aqueducts .

Structures such as the Wari temple Willkawayin near Huaraz were sensational in terms of construction. The Willkahuain temple is crowned by a gable roof made of huge smooth stone slabs, inside and outside heavy megaliths alternate with small-format slate layers. Due to this elastic construction, the temple suffered only two cracks even in the severe earthquake of 1970 .

In their time, the Wari set up a network of Andean paths that was as precise as the later Inca network of paths, Qhapaq Ñan, and stretched from Ayacucho to Lake Titicaca in the south and to Piura in the north.


The economic decline of the Wari Empire began in the 11th century. The population decreased, the capital Huari and other cities in the highlands were gradually abandoned. Later, people also left the cities on the coast and retreated to the village settlements. It is believed that climatic changes in connection with El Niño may have caused the demise of this culture, but no more precise information is available to date.

With the fall of the Wari culture, its unifying power was also lost; For several centuries the Andean region was again shaped by independent regional empires and regional cultures.

See also

  • Huari rig , a type of rigging used in sailing boats


  • Tiffiny A. Tung: Violence, Ritual, and the Wari Empire: A Social Bioarchaeology of Imperialism in the Ancient Andes. University Press of Florida, 2012. ISBN 978-0-8130-3767-7
  • Heather Pringle: The Secret of El Castillo . In: National Geography Special: Adventure Archeology . No. 4/2018 . G + J NG Media, 2018, ISSN  2363-9733 , p. 26-43 .

Web links

Commons : Wari culture  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Lexicon of History. Orbis, Niedernhausen 2001. ISBN 3-572-01285-6